Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lemon Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake

This is a recipe that has been posted on at least 7 or 8 other cooking blogs that I found.  It was not always reviewed positively but for the most-part, people liked it.  Actually, there was only one blog post that said this cake was too sweet. It is really more like a sweet or dessert bread than a coffee cake.  I am thinking that this recipe would be perfect with cinnamon-sugar for the holidays.  I am not very experienced at baking with yeast so I found some ideas on how to help the dough rise.  One of the other bloggers put her dough on top of a heating pad which was an interesting idea.  I also saw one that said she heats her oven up a tiny bit (like set to 150 and then turn off 15 minutes before she is done making the dough so it's just warm) and let the dough rise in there.  The oven becomes a draft free, warm place.  Don't be scared off of making this recipe because it has a lot of steps.  Please don't be scared of using the yeast.  If I can do it, anyone can.  Really!  

I am amazed to say that my son absolutely loves this cake.  I have a feeling that I will be making it again and again and again.  

Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake
From Flo Brake
Baking for All Occasions

Makes a 9x5 pan

Sweet Yeast Dough:
About 2-3/4 cups (12-1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1-3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (2-1/2 fluid ounces) whole milk
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) water
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Lemon Sugar Filling:
1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (3 lemons)
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted

Tangy Cream Cheese Icing:
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup (1-1/4 ounces) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


1.    In the microwave heat the butter and the milk together until the butter melts. Set aside to cool slightly. While it is cooling Mix two cups of the flour with the yeast and the sugar in the bowl of a mixer. Then add the water to the milk mixture and stir in the vanilla extract.
2.    Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixer and stir until combined. Turn the mixer on low speed and add the eggs one at a time, mixing each egg until it is combined. Add another ½ cup of the flour and the salt and mix till combined.
3.    Sprinkle the dough with 2 tbsp of flour and knead it with the dough hook for 3 minutes. The dough will be sticky but should become soft and smooth from the kneading.  Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size.
4.    Make Ahead Tip: If you want to make the dough the night before you bake it just gently deflate the dough after its first rise, place back in the bowl and cover it with plastic. Stick it in the fridge overnight (it will continue to rise, but at a much slower rate. Plus you get added flavor in the bread from the benefit of a slow, cold rise) The next day take the dough out and bring it to room temperature before proceeding with the next steps. I like to cover my dough with a damp piece of paper towel and stick it in my oven at the lowest temperature until it is room temp.
5.    Mix the sugar, lemon zest, and orange zest. It will draw out the citrus oils and make the sugar sandy and fragrant.
6.    Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan or spray it will baking spray
7.    Forming the loaf:  Deflate the dough with your hand. Flour a work surface and roll the dough into a 20″ by 12″ rectangle.  This part is a lot easier with a ruler on hand!  Use a pastry brush to thickly coat the dough with the melted butter.
8.    Use a pizza cutter, pastry cutter, or a sharp knife to cut the dough crosswise in five strips, each about 12″ by 4″ (it might not be this exact size, but try to make the five strips be equal sizes). Sprinkle 1-1/2 tablespoons of the lemon sugar over the first buttered rectangle and gently press the sugar in. Top it with a second rectangle, sprinkling that one with 1-1/2 tablespoons of lemon sugar as well. Continue to top with rectangles and sprinkle, so you have a stack of five 12″ by 4″ rectangles, all buttered and topped with lemon sugar.  
9.    Slice this new stack crosswise, through all five layers, into 6 equal rectangles (each should be 4″ by 2″.) Carefully transfer these strips of dough into the loaf pan, cut edges up, side by side. it might be a little roomy, but the bread will rise and expand after baking. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30 to 50 minutes.
10. Bake the loaf for 20 minutes and then check to make sure that top isn't browning too quickly. If it is, just cover the top of the loaf with tinfoil and continue baking. My loaf took a little over 40 minutes to bake completely. When done, transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
11. Meanwhile, make the cream cheese icing. Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth, then add the milk and lemon juice. Stir until creamy and smooth. Spread over the warm bread (you might want to put some plastic wrap or parchment paper under the bread to catch the drips).
12. Serve the coffee cake warm or at room temperature. To serve, you can pull apart the layers, or you can cut the cake into 1-inch-thick slices on a slight diagonal with a long, serrated knife. If you decide to cut the cake, don’t attempt to cut it until it is almost completely cool.